This process includes my emotions and my body, and asserts that my whole being is the instrument of perception, not just my mind.
– Jacklyn St. Aubyn
I know Jacklyn St. Aubyn from my time at New Mexico State University. We received MFA’s in the same year. I invited her to exhibit in the Project Room, when I was a member of eye lounge (2007). She later invited me to guest lecture at NMSU where she taught drawing and painting up until last year. She’s recently retired and tells me she can now live out a long desired dream – to paint everyday.
As I pull together images for this post I am absorbed by a series of small 4″ x 4″ oil paintings on panel. I learn Jacklyn plans to make 100 of them. I will focus on this particular body of work. I will include a few other recent pieces at the end of the post, to show variety and for a better understanding of the process as it influences what I’ll call … the 100 pieces project.
I ask Jacklyn about the small works in particular and her process in general.
When painting, my consciousness is sharpened and concentrated on the task at hand (observation and painting), but at the same time it is open and porous and connected to subjective thoughts. Often while painting with this concentration I feel a deep sense of accord between myself and everything. Time slows down and extends. In my practice of painting I must maintain this steady presence with myself and the object of my attention because this is a process of discovery in which revelations occur. I am on a path to find beauty and truth.
It sounds like a meditation, maybe many meditations. The subject matter itself on some level, is everyday and ordinary. On the other hand, forms, colors, patterns and the play between it all, are extraordinary. The work captivates my full attention. Yes, the beauty is clear. But I know that the idea of beauty is a bit more subjective and maybe transient. I am most drawn to her comment on finding truth.
Yes, she says, it is a form of meditation. Having meditated for 8 years, I can understand the correlation between meditation and painting for me. Concentration and focused attention along with practice are the essential parts of meditation. This is true also with painting. I think I will discover a lot in this process of doing 100 pieces. I am focusing in on the simplest part of what ordinarily would be my subject. This gives me a close look at my painting process as well as isolating what is absolutely important to me.
In general, Jacklyn’s work is small and intimate. These last two sentences (above) clearly place me right into the context of this newest and smallest series.
She continues … By concentrating on this simple object or still life and working to extract as much as possible from observation, I am heightening my awareness. I have to maintain a yearning for truth and a determination to look closely and long, not to settle for secondhand assumptions.
I know working realistically as Jacklyn does is intense process. The seeing is as much work as the putting down of it. I’m curious about how long things take. And because Tangerine and Leaf are two of my favorites, I ask specifically about them.
The images take me anywhere from three days to two weeks. The tangerine took me 2 weeks because I literally painted it three different ways before I was satisfied. The leaf took 3 days.
Below is one seriously wonderful leaf…
I am drawn to the intense color of these two images, between that and the isolation of the forms, there is still something else that calls my attention. I am convinced that it has to do with her willingness to see, defined by both the clarity and depth of the work. In turn she allows me the same experience should I be willing, and yes … I am.
The deepest of painting’s meanings come from my recognition of the interconnections between myself and the rest of existence. This recognition is woven into the fabric of the painting. Color, light, form and surface reveal themselves to the viewer by appealing to the senses. In this way I speak of empathy and for this reason, I paint not only for myself, but for others as well.
As a painter I reach for the outer world, the world of things, by means of the visual language. Painting begins when my body and mind are in a state of concentration and I am focused on the object of my attention.
I note what Jacklyn does as precise and steady. Her practice involves much skill. She has will to attend to it in the manner that she does. It’s process. It’s work. It’s commitment. And maybe it’s sincere curiosity about being. It’s the conscious connect she makes every time she goes to her studio. St. Aubyn’s paintings grab my whole attention and bring me right into the moment. They honor the present.
Jacklyn St. Aubyn lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
She is represented by Matrix Fine Art in Albuquerque, NM.
To see her recent work and more of the 4″ x 4″ paintings (100 pieces project), visit her website and blog:
Jacklyn St. Aubyn’s blog
While a grad student, I taught drawing (as Jacklyn’s teaching assistant). I observed her as she created/designed the curriculum for the Department of Art. That curriculum was eventually published and called Drawing Basics. I teach much of that material today.
I didn’t study drawing with Jacklyn. Through her I learned how to teach drawing. She enhanced my seeing then with her teaching method. She continues to enhance my seeing through her painting.